When I decided to start a hobby farm in the spring, the first animal on my ‘to obtain’ list was chickens. Raising chickens is pretty simple. As long as they have food, water, space to roam and a place to protect them from predators and the weather, they’re happy.
I’ve raised chickens several times in my life and though I missed their clucking around the yard, I missed their eggs on my plate more. I love the taste of fresh eggs gathered from my own birds.
I remember having my cholesterol checked in the early 1990s. The results surprised the nurse: it was excellent. She asked what I ate to keep it so low. I replied, “Two eggs a day and a chocolate bar.”
She began to lecture me. “You shouldn’t eat so many eggs. It’ll catch up with you and you’ll have high cholesterol.”
Little did we both know at the time my two eggs – from my own chickens – were better for me than we could have imagined. I didn’t take her advice and kept eating eggs every day. Three months ago, I had my cholesterol checked and again, my doctor said he wished he had my numbers. I wonder if I should recommend farm-fresh eggs to him. (smile)
During the 1980s and 90s, the big push was on for people to reduce the number of eggs they consumed. “Eggs are high in cholesterol and will lead to an increased risk of heart disease,” they claimed.
That was true of store-bought eggs. Chickens which lay those eggs are confined in small cages and fed grain to push their egg production to the maximum. In turn, consumers are eating what the chickens ate.
Chickens that have access to the outside whether penned or free to roam the yard are not only healthier than battery hens but produce a healthier egg.
When raised on a variety of foods such as grain, grass, weeds, slugs, snails, bugs, apples, lettuce and everything else within pecking range, chickens produce an egg containing less cholesterol. In fact, studies reveal, there’s 1/3 less cholesterol in a free-range egg. But the good news doesn’t stop there. They also contain 1/4 less saturated fats. That’s wonderful news for the heart.
In addition, eggs produced by naturally raised chickens have:
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene
And let’s face it; if you’ve ever compared the taste of a store-bought egg to that of a homegrown one, you know which tastes better.